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Black Maria, M. A.
By John Russell Fearn

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Black Maria, M. A.

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Black Maria, M. A.
By John Russell Fearn
Linford Mystery Library: Large Print (2008)
ISBN: 978-1-84782-187-4
Genre: Mystery

Reviewed by Herbert White - February 23, 2009

Writing as John Slate, Black Maria, M. A. is one of John Russell Fearn's many mysteries. This one was first published in 1944 during the heyday of the pulp mystery craze. This large print edition of Black Maria, M. A. is complete and unabridged, and it is a book not to be missed if you are a fan of pulp fiction. Best of all, this is a locked-room mystery, which is one of my favorite types of books in the mystery genre!

In this case, Ralph Black is found shot to death, by his own gun. The New York cops that investigated the murder quickly ruled his death a suicide, in large measure because his body was found behind the locked door of his library. His family, however, disagrees with the verdict and sends to England for Miss Maria Black, M.A.. The no-nonsense Headmistress of the Roseway College for Young Ladies. Maria is Ralph's sister, and she is determined to find the real killer.

Maria is a great, middle-aged, amateur sleuth in the mold of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. She is intelligent, has a knack for solving crimes, and who has made the study of criminology her hobby. To their detriment, most criminals, when they meet her, dismiss this fifty-five-year-old spinster as a non-threat. Those that make this assumption, in short order, learn to rue their naivete.

As Maria begins her investigation into her brother's murder, she quickly discovers that his death was part of a large, nefarious plot. How she uncovers the truth about her brother's death, and those behind, will take your breath away in this fast paced, and unforgettable mystery. I don't know if Fearn ever wrote any other mysteries featuring the indomitable Miss Black, but I will endeavor to find out as I would definitely like to read more about this wily woman with her uncanny detective skills and hard-nosed approach to justice!

Black Maria, M. A. can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of the Linford Mystery Library.

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